I really hate bugs.
I know… I KNOW. But it’s one of the only super stereotypically ”girly” things I do, so let me have this. But the larger point is that SINCE I hate bugs, I don’t necessarily know that much about them. I know there’s the whole “know your enemy adage,” but I never was one for following directions however inspired they might be. Therefore, I had a little bit of a disconnect when reading Salsa Invertebraxa.
Salsa Invertebraxa follows two insect protagonists through their lives in the course of a day and night in a magical rainforest wonderland (you should probably read the official description though, because I doubt I’m doing it justice). On the one hand, I felt like there was something I should understand that was going on that I just didn’t. It’s entirely possible that the book was not in fact science-y at all and I just didn’t get it. But I felt like I would have found it “miracle-of-life-inspiring” if I had only understood what insects I was looking at. But I didn’t. Because I don’t like bugs. Because I didn’t have enough background information on the buggy protagonists involved I couldn’t identify them, let alone make sense of what they were doing, despite the beautifully written rhyming prose. And that’s where the disconnect came in. Despite my aversion to bugs and despite my not entirely understanding the miracles of nature the book showed me, it still was beautiful.
Eventually I realized that the text, written in short rhymes, despite being incredibly well crafted (and I take personal offense to poorly crafted rhymes. And puns.) was simply not going to help me because the narrator clearly understood who he was talking about. But for me it was like coming in mid conversation. However, once I stopped worrying so much about the hidden meanings in the prose, I was actually able to make out the main and even finer points of the circle-of-life-esque action just from following the gorgeous artwork.
The art is the true star of the book. If all bugs looked like Mozchops’ gorgeous paintings, maybe I wouldn’t hate them quite so much. The mostly full-page pieces are detailed and reverent and reminiscent of high fantasy art filled with dragons and magic. But with insects and lucious scenery instead. It takes a world that so many of us (including myself) typically see as insignificant and ugly and makes it vibrant and even whimsical. I could look at this art all day. I would buy this art for my wall, bugs and all. Though the book itself is it’s own art piece, beautifully hardbound with full-color glossy pages. The kind of book construction I can get behind.
Though I still kind of hate bugs. (Sorry.)
TL;DR: The well-crafted rhyming text gets points for style, but pales in comparison to the gorgeous art in this tale of two insects in a journey through a tropical wonderland. A beautiful book perfect for display or sharing with children.
Salsa Invertebraxa is by author/artist Mozchops and published by Pecksniff Press. You can purchase it on their website and I would also HIGHLY recommend looking through this gallery of some of the book’s gorgeous art.
A review copy of Salsa Invertebraxa was graciously provided to Spandexless by the publisher.